Given its price, the HP Chromebook 14 is surprisingly good-looking. Most low-cost laptops look, well, like low-cost laptops.
It’s also nicely made and a smart choice for people who need a basic, no fuss computer. I’ve seen laptops selling for twice the price that feel more flimsy, less sturdy than the HP Chromebook 14.
It comes in a plastic case that looks like it can take some punishment, so it would be a good choice for school students.
The review model is white, HP calls it ‘snow white’. There are other, brighter colour choices.
Better than average keyboard, touchpad
Hewlett-Packard includes a good keyboard and a decent touchpad – again, it’s better than most in the same price range. There’s no keyboard backlighting. Lower case letters on the keys are a nice design flourish. I’ve seen more expensive computers from HP that are not as well equipped. In practice I found I could work away without any compromise.
The 14 inch display is about the only feature that doesn’t feel as if it escaped from a more expensive device. It’s a little washed out – and by 2014 standards not over endowed in the pixel department. None of that is helped by the way Chrome likes to use grey text and transparent overlays. Sometimes there isn’t enough contrast.
More pixels please
Like most other Chromebooks – including those with 11 inch screens – it has just 1366 by 768 pixels. That’s at the low-end of the scale for 2014 – many smartphones have higher pixel counts. The screen is a little too shiny for my taste.
On the plus side, the larger display makes it easier to read text. It is big enough to, say, watch a movie with a companion.
There are two USB 3 ports, a USB 2 port, HDMI port and a memory card reader. There’s also a built-in webcam. That’s a lot of hardware for not much money.
HP Chromebook 14, dumb computer, smart choice
HP lists the Chromebook 14 on its website at $699. Shop around and you may find it for around $500. I say ‘may’, because the last time I looked it was out of stock at the official site and most other retail sites.
At $500, it is really good value. You can buy Windows machines at the same price, but you won’t find one as well-built as the HP Chromebook 14 unless you spend a few hundred dollars more.